Cherry MX Browns are a switch that lives in both fame and infamy.
Though the MX Brown is indeed one of the most used and most available switches, it has also become one of the most hated and most ridiculed switches in the community.
Do Cherry MX Browns really deserve to be flushed down the toilet?
Or are they just a misunderstood and bullied victim of toxic elitism, obnoxious meme-culture, and an echo-chamber of ignorance?
What are MX Browns?
MX Browns are a light tactile force switch made by Cherry, intended to be a moderate choice relative to the extremes of the Cherry MX Red and Blue switches.
Cherry’s Brown switches have an actuation force of 55g and a bottom-out of 60g. Actually a very consistent weight.
The tactile bump is rounder and much more subtle than the tactile force of the clicky blue switch.
The peak force required to actuate an MX Brown switch is relatively higher than that of the red linear switch, but the feeling is a bit less smooth.
Cherry describes them as “focused and noticeable” and hails them as the “ideal switch for precise typing”.
Check out our Ultimate Guide to MX Browns to learn more about these tactile switches from Cherry.
In theory and in concept, the MX Brown sounds like quite an agreeable switch.
In practice, the MX Brown sounds better on
toilet paper than they do on a keyboard.
Are MX Browns Bad?
No, MX Browns are not bad. This does not mean that they are good, simply that they are not worse than the alternative – not typing.
To say that any switch is inherently, objectively “bad” is to be completely facetious, contrived, ignorant, and pedantic.
While Cherry MX Browns may not feel as strong, snappy, or tactile as a Holy Panda, T1, or Blueberry, they are certainly not a bad switch if Cherry Reds are too light.
One of the biggest complaints about Cherry Reds and light linear switches is that simply resting your fingers on keys could lead to an unwanted, accidental keypress.
Even accidentally brushing the keys with your finger could cause an actuation.
The Cherry MX Brown will give you a bit of added resistance at the top of the keypress so you are less likely to have typing errors.
Cherry Blues could be too clicky for those around you, and too wobbly for your liking.
Cherry MX Brown gives you a similar level of resistance and spring weight, without the anemic clicks.
Though Browns may not be as smooth as a stock Cherry Red, they are noticeably smoother then the sandpaper feel of stock Blueberry switches.
If the MX Brown is your first switch, or your only option, then what isn’t there to love?
You’ve never felt what a “proper” switch feels like, let along a stronger tactile switch.
Maybe you just prefer a lighter, more subtle tactile bump, and just want a switch to help your accuracy.
Once you compare it to other stronger tactile switches, and even variations of the same design like the Gateron Brown or Kailh Box Brown, you really start to see why people call the MX Brown a “dirty linear”.
Why Do People Hate MX Browns?
A strange phenomena that occurs in niche hobby communities is the absurd, illogical, unreasonable scapegoating of something specific by a vocal minority.
In the sneakerhead world it’s Skechers.
In the audiophile world it’s Bose and Beats…and the Audio Technica ATH-M50.
And in the mechanical keyboard community, it’s those godawful MX Browns.
Sometime in the last decade, with the rise of mechanical gaming keyboards, and enthusiast keyboard communities like on reddit, geekhack, and keebtalk, MX Browns have become demonized and memed as the toilet-tier switch.
While at first they were the “safe” and even sometimes the preferred and recommended option, MX Browns have since become labelled a scratchy linear or dirty Red.
As a community, as a family, it is common to make fun of something in a loving, endearing manner.
To show affection by poking fun at self-conscious qualities in an attempt to care through criticisms.
What else are friends and family for if not to point out every glaring mistake, flaw, and inadequacy in you, no matter how irrelevant or insignificant? It’s purely out of love, surely.
But in every joke, in every criticism, lies truth.
Why MX Browns Suck
Cherry Browns are commonly referred to as MX Sand. People don’t like Sand. It’s all coarse, rough, irritating, and it gets everywhere.
But what is the reasoning behind the ridicule?
Not smooth enough to be a linear. Not tactile enough to be a clicky. Not even tactile enough to be a tactile. What an awful steaming pile of switch.
You were the chosen one. You were meant to bring balance to the
tactile force, not leave it in darkness.
In theory and in concept, the MX Brown and tactile switch are supposed to be what convinces you to switch to a mechanical keyboard.
As the gateway switch to a deep rabbit hole and the first introduction many people have to the mechanical keyboard community, the Brown switch is a poor excuse for an ambassador.
Instead of giving people a fresh, clear, snappy tactility that makes membrane users weep and bask in its glory, the MX Brown instead treats everyone to the most lackluster, unnotable, and otherwise forgettable experience.
The problem is, no one forgets their first.
Especially when it’s this bad.
So bad they named your color after the most repulsive, dirty, unpleasant disgusting thing anyone can think of.
You know what I’m talking about.
Compared to a Membrane
Most of us in the community migrated from using an OEM membrane keyboard that was either included with your PC, a hand-me-down, or even purchased by choice with actual money (how dreadful!)
The fact is, a membrane keyboard is actually very tactile.
So tactile in fact that the tactile force surpasses that of even a Holy Panda or T1 switch.
The problem is that a membrane keyboard also tends to have a very soft, mushy feel to every keypress.
If you are coming from a membrane keyboard and expect something that will impress you and lead you away from the membrane keyboard…you probably will be disappointed in a Cherry MX Brown.
What about the other Cherry Switches?
MX Browns might get the dirty end of the stick, but what about the other Cherry MX switches?
Cherry MX Browns may not be “tactile enough”, but the others aren’t so popular either.
What does the community have to say about them? For great justice, take out every switch.
MX Reds are too light and the springs are not ideal for linear switches compared to Gateron Yellows. Oh You like Red? Psycopaths, Sociopaths, Sadists, and Masochists often do.
MX Blues and Whites are too wobbly and the clicks are meant for anemic cold-blooded peasants, especially compared to a rich and robust Kailh Box Clickbar (Clickbar Gang Rise Up!).
MX Greens? You must be very familiar with “greens” if you are suggesting they are a worthwhile clicky switch.
MX Clears have to have the springs swapped out to even be considered a tactile switch.
MX Blacks have to be old and worn to even be considered the only viable MX switch. “Vintage MX Blacks” are another word for overpriced raggedy old plastic and spring steel. They don’t make them like they used to for a reason, boomer.
Cherry Silent Switches? If you like mushy switches, you might as well go back to membrane.
Don’t even mention the sinful abominations that are the MX Grey and MX Speed switches. We do not speak their names. No.
Are Cherry Switches Bad?
Obviously not just every switch can be bad. Obviously not just any switch can be objectively bad.
Cherry switches are not inherently bad, but after losing their patents, many clones like offerings from the 3 giants JWK, Kailh, and Gateron have made their presence known in the last decade.
Even with the competition offering cheaper yet superior options, Cherry are still offering their switches at higher prices than the competition, costing as much as $1 per switch.
Sometimes practicality and persecution go hand in hand.
In Defense of Browns
People actually love Browns
Despite what the memelords and vocal minority like to say, MX Browns are actually often chosen as “favorite MX-style mechanical switch” in multiple polls by an overwhelming majority, including this recent poll from Drop.
MX Browns are extremely available in pre-built keyboards, which reigned supreme until recently, thanks to Glorious and their revival of the hotswap custom keyboard.
Being so available, and so common, also means that of course they are the most liked switch.
People start out on Browns, and while it may be a switch that people migrate away from the most, it is also a switch that many people end up coming back to.
Stock MX Browns in Popular Keyboards
So just how prevalent are MX Browns? Why are they so widespread?
MX Browns are the “safe choice”. They are one of the most recommended switches because once you feel it, you know if you like it, if you would prefer something smoother, or something even more tactile and clicky.
But there is more to liking a typing experience than just the switch and the keycap that sits on top.
MX Browns are a popular addition to prebuilt keyboards from big companies such as Logitech, Corsair, and HyperX to name a few.
Even smaller community-approved brands use Cherry MX like Varmilo and Ducky.
There is a big difference between these brands, however. That difference is the lack of quality that often comes with profit-driven mass-production.
Gaming keyboards and mainstream mechanical keyboards that are widely available and mass produced are typically ones that feature a ton of cut-corners.
Bad stabilizers that rattle with every press.
Pingy steel plates that are meant to add weight to an otherwise cheap construction.
Cheap thin keycaps that “get the job done” but bring out every flaw.
Hollow plastic housings that echo and make the reverb from the cheap plate even worse.
While these are all things that an enthusiast could modify, the average consumer or gamer probably has no knowledge or interest in performing such modifications, especially if it means voiding the warranty.
These cost saving measures all add up to a bad typing and gaming experience regardless of the switch that goes into it.
You would have an equally poor experience with an MX Red, Blue, even Vintage Blacks.
Using a premium switch like a Gateron Black Ink or Holy Panda would just make all of the keyboard’s inherent flaws that much more glaringly and painfully obvious.
Mass Produced Gaming Keyboards were always bad, regardless of switch.
Not every prebuilt Cherry MX Brown keyboard is bad..here’s some of the best.
OK, Browns Aren’t Bad, But Can Browns Be Good?
Like we discussed above, some people like to modify the Cherry MX Clear.
By replacing the MX Brown stem with a Cherry MX Clear stem, you have essentially created an Ergo Clear switch.
This is a Cherry MX Brown housing and spring, but with a larger bump; a bump that feels more like a proper tactile switch.
But you don’t have to be Dr. Frankenstein in order to make the MX Brown an acceptable switch.
All it takes is a little bit of lube in the right places to make your Brown experience just a little more smooth and satisfying.
Pair it with nice thick keycaps, a well built keyboard with sound dampening and good stabilizers, and you are sure to like your MX Browns.
See what Browns can do for you.
MX Browns may be the scrawny, misunderstood middle child that gets bullied by everyone, but as always this hatred is typically rooted in some deep inadequacy within themselves.
Browns are fine. Browns can actually be good for you. Search your feelings, you know it to be true. Say no to elitism.
After all, how can tactile gang rise up if we are fighting among ourselves?
Instead, why not fight a common enemy and unite under one banner?
All mechanical switch types, together against the enemy…
Thank you for your time, and thank you for your effort in the struggle against Big Gaming.
If you would like to claim your role and join the forces as a tactile, linear, or clicky recruit, feel free to join our Discord community and make your voice heard.
If you learn nothing else from this article, the takeaway from all of this should really be: Gaming Keyboards Suck More.